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Generous Donor Secures Future Fund for Rescue Helicopter

Generous donor secures future fund for rescue helicopter

July 2017 - A long-time supporter of the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust (EHRT) has helped launch a new fund to secure the future of the regions rescue helicopter service. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has seeded the Eastland Rescue Helicopter Endowment Fund at The Sunrise Foundation.

Established in 1988 and governed by a trust board, EHRT is a not-for-profit charitable organisation. They work hard every year to fundraise the money needed to keep the essential rescue service on 24/7 standby.

Patrick Willock, EHRT Chair, says the rescue helicopter is vital to our community. “We fly about 145 missions a year, this includes rescues, but many people aren’t aware that a large part of our work is transporting patients from around the region to Gisborne and larger centres for treatment. A key objective of the helicopter trust is to ensure people of the Gisborne and East Coast region have equity of access to medical services.”

Jane Williams, EHRT Trustee, lived up the Coast for 30 years and has seen the service in action many times. She believes it is essential we have a local helicopter service, “it is arguably more important in a region such as ours to have a localised service. If our helicopter was run out of a bigger centre such as Napier, patients would have at least an hour longer journey to treatment and we would lose much of our day to day patient transport service.”

The helicopter trust came into being as a result of Cyclone Bola. Helicopters from around the district pulled together to reach areas compromised by the disaster. Dennis Hartley, a local helicopter pilot, spoke on Radio Ngati Porou after the event about the part helicopters played in the rescue and support of people hurt and endangered by the event. By the end of his time on air people in our community, and from as far away as the Chatham Islands, spontaneously donated $6,300 and as a result the rescue helicopter was established.

Glenda Stokes, Sunrise Executive Officer, says this shows how much the rescue helicopter service resonated in the community and this continues to the present day. “Our rescue helicopter is treasured by the community. We’re honoured to be in a position to help fundraise to keep the service viable for future generations.”

Murray Ferris, EHRT Trustee, says flying the rescue helicopter in our region is formidable and the terrain some of the hardest in NZ to navigate. “With no ambient light to guide them, flying is challenging. We are fortunate to have excellent pilots who know our region well.”

Murray added, the EHRT is volunteer led with one full time pilot, “we run a lean mean organisation, overheads are kept low. Our focus is on continuing to deliver a reliable and efficient rescue service to the community.”

Patrick considers the Sunrise endowment model to be a good concept. “People in the community can be confident in the knowledge their donation to our fund will be an enduring legacy for the helicopter service.”

All donations to the Eastland Rescue Helicopter Endowment fund will be invested, protected and grown to keep up with inflation. The surplus investment income will be returned to the charity each year. Glenda pointed out that the helicopter charity will be able to rely on funding each year, which will grow over time. “It is hard every year to fundraise the amount of money they need to keep the helicopter in the air, this fund will guarantee a reliable source of income forever.”


• The Sunrise Foundation raises funds from donations and legacies and invests them for the long term (endowment funds).
• Income from investments is used to increase endowments in line with inflation. Surplus income is granted to charities, organisations or causes in the Gisborne District only. All money raised here, stays here.
• Local Gisborne people have gifted nearly $2 million in donations and $7 million in promised bequests to The Sunrise Foundation since October 2014.
• Donations can be added to the Sunrise General Fund that can respond to our communities needs as they change. Income from the General Fund is used to provided grants in our annual funding round.
• Donors can support their favourite charities or causes through a special purpose endowment fund, meaning that their chosen charity will be supported forever by their donation.
• Although new to New Zealand community foundations have been operating successfully in North American for over 100 years.
• Sunrise is one of fourteen independent community foundations in New Zealand.
• The Sunrise Foundation was launched by The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall in October 2014.
• Community Foundations New Zealand and The Tindall Foundation support Sunrise with guidance, encouragement and sharing of resources.
• Colin Christie, Sunrise vice chair, is on the board of Community Foundations NZ.
• Sunrise has one funding round per annum and has funded over thirty organisations in the past two years. Past grant recipients are:-

Centre Stage
Citizens Advice Bureau Gisborne
Diabetes Gisborne
Eastwoodhill Arboretum
Gisborne City Vintage Railway
Gisborne East Coast Cancer Society
Gisborne Land Search & Rescue
Gisborne Rowing Club
Gisborne Volunteer Centre
Gisborne Surf Lifesaving
Gisborne Volunteer Centre
Growing Through Grief
Hackfalls Aboretum
Horouta Waka Hoe Club
Hospice Tairawhiti
Ilminster Intermediate
Longbush Eco Sanctuary
Mangapapa Playcentre
Mangapapa Union Church
Mindlab Gisborne
Ngati Porou Hauora
Heart Foundation Gisborne
Surf Lifesaving Gisborne
Swim for Life Tairawhiti
Tairawhiti Community Law Centre
Victim Support Tairawhiti
Whinray Eco Trust

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